Meeting the needs of adults with autism

Easter Seals is proud to be part of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA), a consortium of twelve organizations that promote the awareness of the needs of adults with autism. On July 15, the AFAA hosted the Autism Congress in Washington D.C. It was the culmination of one and a half years of work!

Back in January of 2009, AFAA held a think tank in New York City that included families and individuals, program directors, university professors, public policy authorities and specialists from both the public and private sectors. Housing, employment and community integration were just some of the many topics addressed there.

After gathering this information during the think tank, the AFAA moved in to phase two: national town halls.

Last November, over one thousand people (including caregivers, advocates, elected officials, family members, and adults with autism) participated in discussions across the country and made recommendations on meeting the needs of adults with autism.

All this hard work culminated last week, when these recommendations were delivered at the Autism Congress.

The Autism Congress was a fantastic event attended by legislators, individuals with autism, family members, service providers and many others. The work from the Think Tank and the Town Hall provided a wonderful platform to let our policy makers know what is needed, such as access to services and supports. Currently, the needs of adults with autism are unmet and woefully underfunded. Federal policy changes are one step we can make towards improving the outcomes for adults with autism.

The highlight of the Autism Congress? The Stakeholder Panel. No question. The stakeholder panel was rich with personal stories from adults with autism. Personal stories are such a wonderful way of conveying the hopes, dreams and needs of adults with autism. For an idea of what I mean, check out these stories of hope on the Easter Seals web site — six of them are about adults with autism.

Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism accomplished its three activities (think tank, national town hall, Autism Congress), but it goes without saying Easter Seals and the other twelve organizations will continue to advocate for services and supports that ensure all adults with autism experience a high-quality life.


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